The fifth largest win production industry in the world is none other than Argentina’s. Though for much of the country’s history wine makers were preoccupied with producing large amounts of wine rather than taking time to produce wine that is of great quality, many things have changed in recent times. By the end of the 20th century there were over 1,500 established wineries in Argentina, but the focus had switched to improving flavor and consistency. Argentine wine is now globally recognized, and no trip to Argentina is complete without tasting it.
The best wines from Argentina are therefore from recent times, primarily the past decade. Here are the top 10 Argentine Wines and their origins (they are listed in no particular order):
MelpalMalbecReserva 2004 – Luján deCuyo, Mendoza
Much of the rising popularity over Argentine wine is due to the wines made from the Malbec grape variety (“Malbec” literally means “bad grape”, as in, it is bad if you can’t get more of it!) The Argentine Malbec grapes come in smaller, tighter clusters than those of France, where unlike Argentina this type of grape is declining when it comes to wine. The MelpalMalbecReserva is bright violet red. It has a dense, complex wine of light to medium body, but it nevertheless has a fine, fresh taste and lasting aroma.
Luigi BoscaReservaMalbec D.O.C. 2003 –Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza
Another great Malbec wine (one of a few deserving ones on this list), the Luigi BoscaReservaMalbec D.O.C. is a deep scarlet red with depth and intensity. Flavor-wise, it has a robust taste of oak and berries.
TerrazasReservaMalbec 2005 – Mendoza, Mendoza
The TerrazasReserva is a great dinner wine. Intense red in color and with an almost leathery aroma, this wine goes great with steaks and other thick meals (use it with a spicy meal for an extra flavorful combination).
Bodega Catena Zapata White Stones Chardonnay 2009 – Mendoza, Mendoza
If you like Chardonnay, this is certainly one of the best that Argentina has to offer in terms of fullness and elegance. Complete with apple and pear aromas, this wine tastes rich without being overwhelming. It is a notable pale yellow-green when it comes to color.
Callia Alta Syrah 2005 – Valle de Tulum, San Juan
Lighter wines don’t have to mean lighter in flavor. The Callia Alta Syrah from 2005 is a clear, ruby red that is light on the palate but makes for a delicious dinner or lunch wine. The noticeable aromas and flavors are of spices, plums and oak, with a touch of vanilla.
Bodega Noemia Patagonia Malbec 2010 – Alto Valle delRio Negro
This wine is a nice contrast to many other Malbecs, most of which are from the warmer Mendoza province rather than Rio Negro and have stronger, woody flavors connected with them. Instead the Bodega Noemia Patagonia Malbec has a smooth and balanced fruit flavor that makes it very drinkable for a variety of occasions. Dark berries are most apparent, but there are hints of citrus in there as well.
Viña Alicia Petit VerdotCuarzo 2009 – Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
Lovers of dark wines will fall for this one. When it comes to color, this one is almost as dark red as it gets, giving off a bouqet of figs, olives, balsamic and even herbal scents. That being said, it is surprisingly fresh and smooth with the flavor of dark berries.
ViñaMaipuSangioveseBonarda 2004 –Maipu, Mendoza
A gorgeous ruby red wine with darker tones, this one is light to medium in body. Though it is a “cheaper” wine, it nevertheless gives off lasting flavors of berries (mainly cherries), plums, pepper, and various spices. This wine goes with traditional Argentine dinners, but it also works well with other cuisines using pasta and grilled meat and vegetables.
Carlos PulentaVistalba Corte 2003 – Luján de Cuyo
Another ruby red wine, this one is of medium to full body and provides a pleasant bouquet of berries and spices. Taste-wise it is complex, but nevertheless well balanced and lush.
Carmelo Patti Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 – Luján de Cuyo
No wine list feels complete without a Sauvignon, and 2002 happened to be a great year for Argentine grapes. As far as the country’s wines go, the Carmelo Patti Cabernet is rich with cherry and smoky flavors, but with a fresh, almost earthy scent. And yes, this wine is still good a decade later.
If you enjoy drinking Argentine wine, why not come and visit the source? As you have already seen from this list, the primary wine regions in Argentina are in the provinces of Catamarca, La Rioja, Mendoza, Salta, San Juan and Rio Negro. Your hotel may even have listings for nearby wine tastings.